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Belgium Travel Guide
Belgium has something special, whether it’s about its friendly nation that can easily talk in English (having three official languages), its impressive architecture or its attractive cuisine offered by many restaurants. Filled with energy and having no worries, this country atmosphere is contagious and encourages us to enjoy life to the maximum.
Located between France and Netherlands, Belgium has all the best that Europe has to offer; in one day you can take a romantic cruise on a canal in Bruges, you can search for diamonds in Antwerp, you can enjoy a wafer on the beach in Oostende, you can have fun at a festival in Binche, you can get lost in a castle in Namur or you can explore the art museum in Brussels. The railway network makes the trips easy and comfortable.
Often called “The Essence of Europe”, Belgium is multicultural and multilingual. The northern Flanders can boast with the medieval cities of Antwerp, Bruges and Ghent. In the southern Wallonia you’ll find the scenic region of Ardeni, countless castles and the cities of Liege, Namur and Tournai. Brussels is one of the most cosmopolitan capitals, housing the European Union and NATO, as well as a lot of commercial companies and international affairs.
Belgium’s history has always been connected to the cultural and trading exchanges, most of its present features being a result of its role as a meeting place in the Western Europe. Spanish, Austrian, French and Dutch traces are visible today in architecture and the inhabitants’ life style. You can admire gorgeous examples of old and modern architecture, Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque and Art Nouveau.
Belgium Tourist Attractions
Don’t miss the main attraction in the capital city, Brussels, the spectacular Grand Place in gothic style. Take pictures of yourselves with the statues of Manneken Pis and Janneken Pis, which are an allusion the old Brussels’ exuberance.
Continue exploring the capital with the St Gudule cathedral and Mont des Arts park, which connect the southern and the northern part of the city. Don’t forget the elegant RoyalPalace.
- Take a trip to Heysel to see the Atomium, a giant representation of a molecule, constructed with the occasion of the 1958 World Fair. This statue represents the great cities in the European Union.
- Pay homage to the history in the place where the Waterloo battle took place, 18km south of Brussels, an event that marked the future of Belgium and modern Europe.
- In Antwerp you can see old and modern attraction in the Grote Markt square where you can find the city hall, the Brabo fountain, which commemorates the birth of the city and Groenplaats, with Rubens’ statue.
- To admire architectural beauties take a short trip to the city enlisted as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Bruges. The attractions include the 14th century city hall, the bell tower and the Savior’s Cathedral.
- Admire the medieval center in Ghent, which contains many historical buildings. The main attractions are St Bavo cathedral, the place where Carol the fifth was baptized and which houses the Van Eyck masterpiece, the Mystical Lamb’s Shrine.
- Head to the French Wallonia which is south of Brussels. Stop in Dinant to see the spectacular citadel on the cliff and the Notre Damechurch on river Meuse’s bank. Dinant is the place where Adolf Sax was born, the sax inventor.
- Also in Wallonia, visit Liege, a popular tourist destination, located on the banks of river Meuse.
- Explore Belgium’s coastline, a large stretch of sand, 67km long, from Knokke to De Panne, with over ten resorts. The most animated ones are Knokke, Middelkerke and Ostend.
- In Tournai, the second largest city, you can admire the oldest bell tower in Belgium and the Virgin Mary’s Cathedral from the 12th century, both enlisted as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
- Visit the place where the Ardeni Battle took place (1944-1945), in the Bastogne historical center, close to the border with Luxembourg.
- Visit the countless museums in Brussels that include the AncientArt Museum, the ModernArt Museum, ComicsStripMuseum and the BrusselsCityMuseum – Maison du Roi.
- Take a boat ride along the canals in Bruges, often described as “the Venice in the north”. It’s an excellent way to witness the splendors of the medieval architecture.
- Taste some of the hundred types of beer that are produced in Belgium, in a bar in Kemelstraat, in the Bruges city’s historical center.
- In Kantcentrul in Bruges you can watch crafts demonstrations, crocheting the lace.
- Visit the Beau-ArtsMuseum and the IndustrialArcheologyMuseum in Ghent, which was once the biggest medieval city in Europe, after Paris.
Discover the Antwerp city’s importance in the world of diamonds at the DiamondMuseum, where you can what how precious stones are cut and you can find out more about the precious stones’ history and importance.
Participate in one of the dozen carnivals and annual festivals in Belgium, including the Ommengang Festival in Brussels, Carnival de Binche and Ghent Festival.
The Belgian cuisine is similar to the French one and it’s based on game meat and sea food. Every region in Belgium has its own traditional way of cooking. The products that are most used are butter, cream, beer and wine. The national specialties include moules frites (oysters and French fries), endive with Bechamel sauce, Ardeni sausages, Belgian chocolate and wafer.There are over 400 type of beer produced in Belgium. One specialty is the beer made out of fruits. The most famous ones are Stella Artois, Leffe, Hoegaarden, Divel and Chimay.
First Roman, then Burgundy, Spanish, Austrian, French and Dutch, the Belgian provinces have finally gained their independence after the Revolution in 1830. Belgium had officially become an independent state, organized as a constitutional parliamentary monarchy. Its recent political history was marked by problems concerning the country’s different communities, four national reforms turning Belgium into a federal state. In the same time, Belgium remained devoted to the international affairs, being a founding member of the European Union and member of the United Nations.Historically, Belgium’s constitutional reform is a result of two divergent political movements. From the end of the 19th century, the Fleming Movement (Vlaamse Beweging) aspired to a cultural and linguistic emancipation in a country dominated by French language. As a result, in 1960 a new movement was created, Wallonia, that claimed a higher autonomy, especially in the economy. These aspirations have materialized into an original federal structure, made out of Communities responsible for the cultural issues and individual problems and Regions, responsible for economical and community problems. This kind of organization resulted in a territorial overlapping; for example, the bilingual region Brussels became a Region, but here both the Fleming community and French community have the authority. The German region is especially lead by the Wallonian Region, concerning the local issues, but also by the German Community, concerning the cultural issues.
The Belgians in Flanders prefer to answer in English to the strangers rather than in French, even though the visitors speak French very well. If you are invited to dinner or just a regular visit it is a custom to bring flowers or a small gift to the host.Trialed by disputes concerning the language and the social-economical identity, the Belgian have adopted the peaceful way of resolving conflicts, the well known “Belgian compromise”. The Belgians are also famous because they have the habit of building their own houses (there is a local expression that says “to be born with a brick in your stomach”). There are a lot of investments in houses going on and the restoration market has been growing for several years.